While blood thinning medication allows many women with heart disease to live productive lives, the risk of bleeding creates peril even from small cuts.
“I was told even shaving my legs was too risky while on Coumadin®,” Said Eliz Greene a heart attack survivor and host of the Patient's Perspective Teleconference presented by the Embrace Your Heart Wellness Initiative. Since the blood is thinned, if injured patients run the risk of loosing large quantities of blood quickly, especially if the blood thinner level is too high.
“One of the most important things we can do is not only to have a plan, but to communicate it to our family members as well so they understand what to do if our Coumadin® levels are out of control or if we injure ourselves,” stated Mellanie True Hills, a heart disease survivor from Texas.
Kay Marie Kortas, a young survivor who lives alone, agrees. “I have Emergency Cards everywhere -- in my car, in my purse, in my gym bag, hanging on my refrigerator. I have even told my neighbor, 'hey look, it's on my fridge, if anyone needs to come to the house, you know where it is if I can't be of any help at the time.' My family has it, my job has one in their emergency file and I also wear my medical bracelet even though I'm on Plavix, not Coumadin®.”
Emergency Information Card
Protect yourself by creating an emergency medical information card and printing it on brightly colored paper to make it easy to spot.
Some items to include are:
* Full legal name
* Date of birth
* Home address and phone number
* Your doctor's name and phone number
* Two emergency contacts with home, work and cell phone numbers
* A brief description of your medical condition and any significant medical history
* A list of you medications and dosages
* Any Allergies
* Insurance information
Carry copies of the card with you at all times. Having multiple copies and placing them in different bags and locations makes this more convenient and consistent. Post a copy on your refrigerator, and give copies to your family, friends, neighbors and employer. It is now also possible to put your medical information on your I-Pod, PDA or other portable device. The more places you have this information the more likely someone will find it in an emergency.
Having a plan worked well for Eliz when she cut her forehead last Winter. “Because I had a plan, I immediately laid down, got ice on it, and once my husband came in and took a look, we headed to the doctor.”
In addition to being prepared for larger injuries, it helps to be prepared for the smaller cuts.
“I also carry around a lot of Band Aids. All different sizes because you never know what you'll need or how many you'll soak through before you stop bleeding,” shares Kay Marie.
“I was always so scared about the big gusher, but the thing I have found is it just won't stop. It's not a huge amount of blood, but it doesn't stop,” said Eliz who also shared how an abnormal pap smear created an embarrassing situation. “I had been off the Coumadin® for the requisite three days, but after the tiny biopsy of my cervix, it just wouldn't stop oozing. It all turned out fine, thank goodness, but my ObGyn sat there with his finger on my cervix for forty-five minutes waiting for the thing to stop the bleeding. You can't make conversation for that long in that position!”
Tips for dealing with injuries:
Make A Plan:
Keep an ice pack in your freezer. Ice and direct pressure are essential to stop bleeding. Create a plan to get help if you need it quickly. Decide who you will call if you are at home, at work or on the road. Determine the closest emergency room or urgent care center and make sure you have your medical information handy. Don't assume you are fine after a fall or car accident. Internal bleeding is a major concern for people on blood thinners. Be safe and get checked out.
Share your plan:
Let your family, friends, neighbors and co-workers in on your emergency plan. If you are unable to communicate what you need, they should know what to do and act quickly.
Be prepared for small cuts:
Carry bandages with you. Ice and direct pressure will help stop the bleeding and prevent excessive bruising.
Wear medical jewelry:
There are many very attractive styles of bracelets and charms available to alert someone of your medical condition. Wearing such an item may save your life if you are unconscious and bleeding internally after a car accident, fall or other injury.
Be creative in avoiding injury:
Use alternative to a razor for hair removal such as wax, creams or electric shavers. (Note: waxing may cause bruising, even bleeding, if your blood is very thin.)
Use extreme caution when using kitchen knives and sharp utensils.
Consider the wisdom of yard work and use of the associated tools.
Stay in control:
If you take Coumadin® or warfrin, be vigilant in keeping your monitoring appointments. Get your thinness level checked if you experience unusual or unexplained bruising as it may be a sign your blood is too thin.
Find out more at www.EmbraceYourHeart.com
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